VICENZA, Italy- The Vicenza Military Community is serious about caring for the environment: U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza was selected as the Fiscal Year 2012 Army Environmental Awards Winner in the Environmental Quality--Overseas category. Environmental programs here have been named the best overseas in the U.S. Army and are now in competition for Department of Defense honors.

"This award showcases the efforts of the community, individuals and units in support of energy conservation and environmental initiatives in Vicenza," said Jim Lessard, Directorate of Public Works Environmental Branch chief.

The award recognizes efforts across all six installations in and around Vicenza. Lessard said a Green Council created to provide executive-level leadership and guidance to garrison activities, tenants and organizations ensured oversight and command support for environmental initiatives. Environmental protection specialist Ron Pinkoski said the Green Council that meets in conjunction with the Environmental Quality Control Committee helped ensure success. "Good environmental ideas often come from the shop floor, but you need that senior leader support to put them into practice," he said.

The guiding matrix for the installations' environmental efforts, Lessard said, is an Environmental Management System re-declared in conformance with the International Standards Organization 14001:2004 Standard in November 2011.

Pinkoski said, "ISO defines what we need to manage in our environmental affairs with the EMS, but leaves flexibility for local procedures. The standards are designed to enable continual improvement as your program develops."

The EMS is also coupled with the Installation Sustainability Plan initiated in 2010 to bring success in a number of key focus areas. "The ISP is developed by a broad team from across the community," Pinkoski said, crediting that teamwork with keeping environmental, recycling and energy management topics in the forefront.

"We have demonstrated that we can integrate innovation and sustainability into both our new facility construction and renovation of older buildings," said Director of Public Works Kambiz Razzaghi.

Lessard said including "smart growth" principles into installation Master Planning, and U.S. Green Building Council design principles and technologies into new facility construction and renovation like that at Dal Molin-Del Din, were also included in the award.

"The expectation is that the entire Del Din campus will achieve certified LEED Gold certification," he said. "Seven other buildings at other Vicenza installations have been built to LEED Silver specification." LEED principles and sustainability concepts are also included in every project contract below the $750,000 threshold, he said.

In addition to high visibility energy projects like the installation of photovoltaic systems and central energy plants, Lessard said, "We are implementing environmentally preferable technologies to include installing compostable waste dehydrators to reduce organic/food waste and produce a reusable byproduct, using shop towel recycling as an alternative to single use disposables, and employing ultrasonic parts cleaning units to replace low volatile organic compound solvent machines."

Lessard said efforts by IMMA and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team were key in implementing these improved, greener technologies.

"Many of the Soldiers have seen pollution prevention technologies used in other garrisons Stateside and are very open to applying them," Lessard said.

He singled out CW2 George Annan, a GSE maintenance technician in the 173rd, for helping with the installation of these and other green technologies for the new motor pools at Del Din. "Bringing the latest pollution prevention measures to these brand new facilities will help reduce hazardous waste and replace hazardous chemicals with environmentally friendly products," Lessard said.

The Vicenza Military Community has increased the amount of urban waste recycled continuously since 2001, keeping well ahead of Italian requirements and Army goals. The amount of waste recycled was only 15 percent in 2001. In 2010, for the first time, the weight of urban waste recycled exceeded the weight disposed, Lessard said, surpassing a goal mandated by Executive Order 13514 five years early. "The percentage of solid waste recycling reached 56 percent in 2012," he said. "Without community support and everyone doing their part this never would have happened."

Community members and Department of Defense Schools supported education and outreach efforts to promote energy and environmental awareness, he said.

Razzaghi said, "The Vicenza Military Community is well positioned to manage the increased demand on energy, water and raw materials with a focus on sustainability of our mission, community and the environment."

Page last updated Tue March 5th, 2013 at 00:00